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Trade unions strategize for week two of COP27

14 November, 2022The COP27 convention centre may be closed this Sunday, but after a demonstration inside the coference venue on Saturday, unions in Sharm El Sheikh are strategizing to “ensure that our voice is heard” and that the term Just Transition doesn’t get diluted in negotiations

Just Transition is crucial as the implementation of the Paris Agreement is negotiated. The term mustn’t be hijacked and Just Transition must be about workers’ rights, good jobs and social dialogue.

On Saturday the trade union delegation at COP27  joined the massive demonstration together with civil society organizations for the “global day of action for climate justice”.

The march was an opportunity for unions to communicate their perspective on just transition. Trade unionists held slogans like:

“Trade unions 4 just transition”

“there are no jobs on a dead planet” 

“there is no climate justice without labour rights”

The march was held inside the conference venue because free protests on the streets are not allowed.

On Sunday the trade union strategy day, organized by the ITUC and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, brought together about 80 trade union delegates to COP from around the world to develop a strategic approach to the climate negotiations, as well as lobbying national governments and including Just Transition in collective agreements with companies.

The delegates were updated on the current status of the negotiations at the halfway point of COP27. The Paris Rulebook was finalized last year at COP26. This year focuses on implementation, and there are important negotiations on loss and damage, climate finance and the implementation of Just Transition in national plans. 

Participants broke out into group sessions to address three important elements of Just Transition:

  1. National Just Transition agreements and laws, with Boitumelo Molete (COSATU) and Anne-Beth Skrede (LO Norway)

"There is political momentum around Just Transition. More and more countries are incorporating it into their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCC. Social dialogue and democracy are prerequisites  for Just Transition - so we can use this to demand freedom of association, create space for unions to organize and to raise their status and bargaining power at national level." 

said Walton Pantland, IndustriALL Global Union.

  1. Trade union climate action and mobilisation with Babacar Sylla (CNTS), Sacha Dierckx (ABVV) and Alex Callahan (CLC)

“It’s not simple to collaborate with civil society organizations due to the diversity of views in the trade union movement. We must look for areas to work together. We will not see eye to eye on everything, but we need to create space to communicate with civil society. We must educate on how trade unions function to build our base and create coalitions to strengthen our movement towards climate justice for all.”

Said Alex Callahan, Canadian Labour Congress

  1. Just Transition in collective bargaining with John Mark Mwanika (ITF) and Diana Junquera (IndustriALL Global Union)

“We need to be sure that Just Transition and climate policies are included in collective bargaining, at local, national, global and company level. Unions have to include specific language to cover workers through the different challenges that they are facing due to climate change and the energy transition“

said Diana Junquera Curiel, IndustriALL Global Union.

Samantha Smith from the Just Transition Centre presented the work of the Centre and the newly launched initiative of Just Transition on the Energy Sector.

“We are working hard with affiliates on Just Transition. Our members know that the transition is here, and they want to be ready, we are here to support this process. We have fought for a seat at the table, and we will win a Just Transition for our members!”

The strategy day concluded with closing words from Eric Manzi of ITUC Africa: 

“Let us continue to work hard in these negotiations. Next week is crucial, and we expect good outcomes.”